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Roll through a stop sign in Los Angeles County, and you'll get a $35 ticket. That’s not all the traffic stop will cost you, though, since by the time you’re done writing checks to the various agencies, you’ll be out of pocket $334, or nearly 10 times the cost of the original ticket.
That doesn’t factor in any potential auto insurance hikes, either – that’s just what it will cost you to set things right with the state of California and Los Angeles County, and it's an example of how communities are recouping lost tax revenue in the only way they know how, by tacking on fees and service charges to the usual legal process.
On top of the violation fee, which is $35, you now get to add in additional penalties, which are either a flat fee or a percentage of the base fine. A single offense can now trigger 15 additional penalties or assessments, so the $35 original violation jumps to $234. Some of that money goes to fund a “state conviction fee,” which raises money for new courthouse construction. There’s a $40 “security fee”, and a $4 surcharge to help fund emergency air transport programs in-state.
You’re not done spending yet, since you’ll want to attend traffic school to get the violation off your record. After paying for school fees and associated fines, that’s another $100.
California is looking at any possible option to close a $10 billion budget deficit. Red light cameras are all the rage, and rake in serious money for municipalities. In 2010, the city of Hawthorne paid Redflex Traffic Systems $235,200 to operate red light cameras within the city. Their return on that investment was $840,000 in revenue from traffic camera fines.
Other changes to traffic violation fees in the Golden State are in the works, and a bill awaiting a vote in the California Assembly would raise fines for drivers caught texting or talking on a hand-held cell phone from $20 to $50. Today, that $20 ticket will cost you $160, but a $50 ticket will raise the cost of the violation and associated fees to over $300.
Do we need to remind you to drive carefully in California?